Notes From The Cotswolds… Home by Penny Parkes
I have to confess that I’ve completely lost track of the days of the week. Somehow, knowing whether it’s Tuesday or Friday is both crucial and utterly irrelevant. Because, let’s face it, most days are pretty similar right now, walking the tightrope of emotions; from happy tears at news of loved ones’ vaccination appointments, to raging at the half-truths, loss and cronyism blighting our little island, and also – often as not – just wondering how long it is until bedtime.
But today is a really special day for me, because I get to share with you the cover for my new novel and talk about the story that began with an idea that simply wouldn’t leave me alone.
It was back in 2019 – in a world where we could travel anywhere – and, as usual, I was living vicariously in the wee small hours. Scrolling through my Instagram feed, past property listings for dream houses, international travel blogs and stylish interiors – none of which bore any relation to my life at all. And yet…
The seed was sown, because the concept of the word ‘home’ stayed with me – how it means different things to all of us. Is it where we live? Who we live with? Or just part of the façade that we present to the world – whether it’s an accurate reflection or not!
And so began the story of Anna Wilson, a professional house-sitter who spends her life taking care of other people’s homes, their pets and sometimes even their neighbours. Living vicariously all over the world. Looking for her own place to call home.
Anna’s childhood bouncing around the foster care system means that she has become very skilled over the years at reframing her life to make it more palatable for those around her, becoming the ultimate chameleon. But she’s stuck now – stuck in this carousel of other people’s lives, trying to work out what she really wants, or needs, for herself.
And what, for her at least, ‘home’ might actually look like.
This book is really close to my heart because it’s ultimately a book about friendship. Over the years, Anna’s friends have become her family of choice and this book gradually evolved into a kind of love letter to that enduring platonic love, the kind that has the power to shape and even validate your adult life and choices.
And within that, I hope Anna’s inner pretzel will resonate with you a little too, as she shelves her authenticity in favour of fitting in, not causing ripples, just wanting to make life easier. Diluting herself. And haven’t we all been guilty of that from time to time? Perhaps you may even cheer a little as Anna finds the strength to take steps in reclaiming agency over her own future, irrespective of the opinions around her. Making bold choices about friendships and ambition and what it is in her life that really, truly matters.
I hope that this gorgeous cover from the team at Simon & Schuster will tempt you to peek behind one of these doors. These beautiful doors that each signify a different home, a different way of living perhaps and – just possibly – a different future for Anna Wilson.
Stay safe, stay well if you can, and let’s travel together this year through the wonder of books.
A gripping and heartfelt story about overcoming the past and finding where you belong. Compelling, rich and evocative, Home is Anna’s journey to discovering that it isn’t where you settle down that matters, but the people you have around you when you do.
‘A delicious read: warm, witty and full of emotional truth’ Caroline Sanderson, THE BOOKSELLER
‘Heartwarming and hopeful, this is a truly brilliant read’ Claire Frost, Fabulous Magazine
‘A lovely read’ BELLA
‘Absolutely beautiful’ HEAT
‘Hopeful and captivating’ Cari
‘A moving, emotional read’ ***** Karena
‘The story unfolds wonderfully’ **** Netgalley Review
‘A really lovely and comforting read’ **** Shelby
‘Well-constructed and thoughtful’ **** Netgalley Review
‘A beautifully written story about finding your place in the world and security in knowing that you are loved. It’s a captivating read with a memorable character at its heart and with such an uplifting, touching message of courage and belonging. I absolutely loved it’ Joanne, read her full blog review here.
‘A heartwarming story about finding your place in the world. I really loved it’ ***** Rachel
‘A beautiful, captivating and hopeful novel’ ***** Netgalley Review
‘An incredible book, full of warmth and hope’ Claire
‘A very enjoyable story’ **** Sharon
‘very poignant’ ***** Jeanie
‘very emotional’ **** Netgalley Review
‘A stunning, emotional book’ ***** Karen
‘A gripping and heartfelt story about overcoming the past and finding where you belong’ ***** Aileen
‘A simply wonderful read about self discovery, friendship, family and forgiveness’ **** Susanne
‘I really loved this book’ ***** Kerry
‘I absolutely adored this book! I could not put it down’ ***** Netgalley Review
‘I loved following the story of Anna and seeing her grow throughout the book’ **** Laura
‘A story of overcoming the past, incredible friendships (old and new) and finding where you belong…’ **** Lara
‘A gorgeous and heart-felt book!’ ***** Netgalley Reviewer
‘Thoroughly enjoyed this’ ***** Helen
‘A very perceptive story, with plenty of strong themes to engage and challenge the reader’ Karen
‘I really enjoyed this story centered on overcoming past friendships and finding the place where you belong – home. The pace was perfect, it was well written and the characters were well developed. Highly recommended’ **** Kirsty
‘I adore Penny’s books! She doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects and she really does tackle quite a few issues in this book – and it’s incredibly well researched too. It was exactly what I needed to read right now’ Kerry, read her full review here.
‘When you’ve absolutely loved a book, it’s so hard to put into words how much you adored it without spoiling for others. Home is a book for everyone. You will be swept into Anna’s life and you will fall in love with this young woman who has been through so much. A story that will wrap around your heart and not let go’ Adele, read her full review here.
‘A raw, honest and very emotional rollercoaster journey – insightful, gentle and filled with hope – a gorgeous read, so thought-provoking and unforgettable. Highly recommended!’ Aga, read her full ***** review here.
‘I loved this story, it was beautifully written, impactful and tender in parts that really made for lovely reading. A clever and warm story about visiting old ghosts and making new friends that is both uplifting and heartbreaking in equal measure’ Bronagh, read her full review here.
‘If Home and Anna Wilson don’t break your heart I don’t know what character and book would! This is a book I’ll be shouting about for a long time to come – it is breathtakingly beautiful, and I know I shall it read again and again’ Dawn, read her full review here.
‘This is a story of life, of love, of friendship, of broken hearts and happy endings. It was a real pleasure to enter Anna’s life and the story will stay with me for a long time’ Emma, read her full review here.
‘I loved this book, I enjoyed the time it took to really delve into Anna’s character, her past, her present and how she developed by meeting all these new people to start thinking about herself’ Rachel, read her full review here.
‘Warm, funny and deeply moving, you may need a packet of tissues for parts of Anna’s story. This is a book that once you start you will not want to put down until you turn the last page. I absolutely devoured it!’ Karen, read her full review here.
‘Home is a heart-warming story that carries you along at a gentle, unhurried pace. There are moments of levity, and there are moments that will break your heart; from start to finish you can’t fail to miss the story’s founding principles of friendship, hope, and the importance of belonging’ Sarah, read her full review here.
‘Anna’s story is enticing and heartwarming. I didn’t want to put it down but I also wanted to savour every word. This book left me reflecting on my own life. From start to finish I was hooked, I can highly recommend this thought provoking novel’ Kelly, read her full review here.
‘I loved this book so much, it has so much heart, so much tender, bittersweet pain in it and I really think so many people are going to get such a treat when they read it. Just have the tissues on standby’ Madeleine, read her full review here.
‘I absolutely adored this book. It was so heartfelt and thoughtful. If you need something that is going to make you really feel something this book is absolutely the place to start’ Kirsty, read her full review here.